Thursday, August 27, 2015
Today is the first day of my younger son's last year of high school. Next week my older son leaves to begin the first day of his last year of college. For twenty-one years, they have been my first thought. Of course I am elegiac, but elated also--as if I have brought the horses to the gate, and now I am waiting to open it, waiting to let them run.
Someone recently told me, "You're only as happy as your saddest child." That's true, terribly true, but there's also the sense, in raising children, of teaching oneself out of a job. If I do it right, if the stars align, if the fates decree, they won't need my worry any more. The gate will be open. They will be running.
Worry is a shorthand for all the fear: of accidents, of heartbreak, of self-destruction. Worry is a shorthand for the care: the food, the clean clothes, the conversation, the books, the music, the laughter. Worry is a shorthand for the hungry, rusty partnership of parents, starved for time and space and love, fenced by schedules and labor and weariness. Worry is a shorthand for my own life, my private life, my selfish self: pigeon-holed into scant hours, hidden like a talisman . . . the life I share with no one, no one at all, the place where the small voices scratch their rough tunes.
What I write here is a splinter of slate, a narrow outcrop.